Friday, August 18, 2017

How To Reduce Your Food Mile Footprint



People in the modern world are increasingly trying to reduce our ‘carbon footprints’. What is a ‘carbon footprint’? Briefly, it’s the amount of carbon released by our own actions - direct or indirect. Things like driving a car, or using a lot of fossil-fuel energy naturally contribute to your carbon footprint in a fairly direct manner, but plenty of little things increase our carbon footprint more indirectly, without us even realizing it. One of those things is buying foods with a lot of ‘food miles’ attached to them. Essentially, foods which have traveled further to reach your plate will increase your carbon footprint more than foods which have not.

There are many reasons for trying to keep your ‘food miles’ down:
  • As mentioned, reducing your food miles reduces your carbon footprint, and eases your environmental conscience!
  • Foods which don’t travel as far don’t need to be treated with as many chemical preservative treatments, making them healthier and tastier in many ways.
  • Buying food grown locally supports the local economy, and benefits small, ethical producers.
  • Locally sourced food is often cheaper, as the transportation and logistical costs of getting it from A to B are lower.

Of course, sometimes it’s simply not possible to keep your food miles as low as you’d like. Not all of the things we like to eat can be grown everywhere, and a degree of international foods-trading is what makes the global economy go round. If you want bananas in the UK, or coconuts in Connecticut. you have no choice but to buy foods that have traveled quite some distance. If this worries you - don’t let it! There are plenty of ways to offset your food miles through other means!

Here are a few ways to keep your food miles low, and your culinary conscience clean!
  • Shop as locally as you can. This one should be reasonably obvious, but it’s worth repeating! When you’re at the store, check labels to see where your food choices have come from. If you can find a version that’s produced more locally, go for that option. Sometimes, this won’t be possible. However, for basics like meat, dairy, potatoes, and so on, there’s almost always an option which is produced in your town, your state, or your country - alongside plenty of imported produce. When you can, filter the more local produce from the imported stuff!
  • Grow your own food. There’s absolutely no way to get more local food than stuff you’ve grown yourself. If you have the time and space, set aside a patch of your yard for a vegetable garden. Growing vegetables is not nearly as hard as it sounds! Or you could plant a few fruit trees, or keep chickens, or even just pop a tomato plant on your windowsill. Every little helps!
  • Check out farmers’ markets. There are more of these around than you think, and they’re a fantastic way to get your food as close to source as possible.
  • Walk, cycle, or catch public transport to your favorite restaurants. Restaurants aren’t always able to get in local food (although it’s often worth asking about food miles - this is something that many local food businesses take an interest in!). If carbon footprint is a concern for you, you can offset any restaurant food miles by using a carbon-neutral method of getting to and from your meal out. Bonus - if you’re not driving, you get to enjoy a wine or a beer with your meal!
  • Look out for ‘pick your own’ or ‘U-pick’ opportunities in your local area. Many farms (particularly fruit farms) are diversifying by allowing customers to gather their own fruits from the trees and bushes on which they grow. It’s a great way to ensure that your fruit is as fresh as it can possibly be, and it’s often great fun as well. Getting to meet fruit producers face to face is also a fantastic opportunity to learn more about food production methods, and many people have great recipes to share!
  • Look for good, tasty food, prepared with love. People who care about the food they’re serving you are more likely to seek the best, chemical and preservative-free ingredients - and these kinds of ingredients are often locally sourced!


photo source: alittlechange.com.au



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what are your thoughts on this? :)